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Books > History > Hindu > The Eternal Narmada - Sacred Landscape and Living Traditions
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The Eternal Narmada - Sacred Landscape and Living Traditions
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The Eternal Narmada - Sacred Landscape and Living Traditions
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About the Book

A time-immemorial belief in the divine character of the Narmada - one of the seven sacred rivers of India - has permeated throughout the intangible heritage of the Narmada Valley and its inhabitants, both tribals as well as non-tribals. A historical survey of this phenomenon and the problems that it is posing in the modern cultural context is the theme of the present volume.

In the interesting river-lore of India, like the story of Gangaoatarana for the Ganga, the Narmada has a fascinating mythology regarding its origin from the Narmada Kunda on the peak of the Amarkantak Hills in Madhya Pradesh from where it traverses westwards over a length of 1,312 km over M.P., Maharashtra and Gujarat before draining through the Gulf of Khambat into the Arabian Sea, 30 km west of the Bharuch city. It is supposed to be the only virgin river of India for which an independent mythological story exists.

The divine character of the Narmada has been narrated in the Epics, the Puranas and the later literary works. The Revakhanda of the Skanda Purana is entirely dedicated to the story of the origin of the Narmada. It is believed that just a sight of the river Narmada cleanses one of all his sins. It is closely associated with Lord Shiva from the perspiration of whose body during the course of his severe penance, she is believed to have taken birth. As a result, the river represents an important pilgrimage site and one of the highest acts of a pilgrim is to perform "Narmada parikrarna" (circumambulation of the Narmada), for which a pilgrim has to walk from the source of the Narmada on one bank to reach the sea and then to cross it to reach the source. The Narmada is the only river in India where such a traditional act of pilgrimage exists.

During modern times, sustainable development along the Narmada has given rise to the politics of resistance. Are the dams more important than the sacred river whose cultural values represented by the relics have been lost by submersion in the dams and the sacred path of circumambulation (Parikarma) of the river as defined by the time-immemorial traditions have been altered?

All these and many more are the issues discussed in the present volume which is a part of the study of intangible heritage of various parts of the country being conducted by INTACH.

About the Author

Dr. R.K. Sharma (b.1932), Convener, INTACH, Jabalpur Chapter is Retd. Professor and Head of the Department of Archaeology and Dean, Faculty of social sciences, Univesity of Jabalpur. Author and Editor more than two dozen books and over one hundred research papers published in reputed research journals, his contributions to the cause of Indian archaeology in general and archaeology of Madhya Pradesh in Particular are widely acclaimed. He is the recipient of Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma Srijan Somman (2009) Awarded by the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh.

Dr. S.K. Tiwari(b. 1941) Retired Professor of Geography and head of the Department of Tribal studies, University of Jabalpur (1964-2003), has contributed significantly in the fields of natural and social sciences. He has authored about three, dozen books and has been awarded ‘Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma Srijan Samman; I 20009. During 1998-1999, he traversed the entire length of the river Narmada from Amarkantak to the Bay of Cambay by a wooden boat with a group of swimmers. A subsequent series of three books on the Narmada are also to his credit.

Smt. Anuradha Khandekar,A Senior Officering Indian Railways, presently posted as Divisional Railway Manager, Rajkot division, has an abiding passion for Narmada in every aspect-Physical, historical and spiritual. Painted by the controversy and politics of the recent times which she researched for this volume, her attempt in this worked has been to explore another perspective of modern devotees of the holy river who look to collaborate in preserving the heritage and assisting the inhabitants of the region to integrate into the 21st century life a the same time.

Preface

A time-immemorial belief in the divine character of the Narmada, one of the seven sacred rivers of India, has permeated throughout the intangible heritage of the Narmada Valley and its inhabitants, both tribals as well as non-tribals. A historical survey of this phenomenon and the problems that it is posing in the modem cultural context is the theme of the present volume.

In India, a river is a mini cosmos in concept. Every river is a mother deity who spawns mythology, art, music, dance, architecture, history, spirituality and so on. Each one has a clear identity, appearance, colour, style and spirit just like a beautiful woman. In every age, diverse human communities have reinvested themselves on river banks with fascinating nuances.

In the interesting river-lore of India, like the story of Gangavatarana for the Ganga, the Narmada has a fascinating mythology regarding its origin from the Narmada Kunda on the peak of the Amarkantak Hills in Madhya Pradesh from where it traverses westwards over a length of 1,312 km over M.P., Maharashtra and Gujarat before draining through the Gulf of Khambat into the Arabian Sea, 30 km west of the Bharuch city. It is supposed to be the only virgin river of India for which an independent mythological story exists.

The divine character of the Narmada has been narrated in the Epics, the Puranas and the later literary works. The Revakhanda of the Skanda Purana is entirely dedicated to the story of the origin of the Narmada. It is believed that just a sight of the river Narmada cleanses one of all his sins. It is closely associated with Lord Shiva from the perspiration of whose body during the course of his severe penance, she is believed to have taken birth. As a result, the river represents an important pilgrimage site and one of the highest acts of a pilgrim is to perform 'Narmada Parikrama (circumambulation of the Narmada), for which a pilgrim has to walk from the source of the Narmada on one bank to reach the sea and then to cross it to reach the other bank and to walk back to reach the source. The Narmada is the only river in India for which such a traditional act of pilgrimage exists. In tradition the river is supposed to be the holiest of the holy rivers of India - more sacred than the Ganga, which, as per legends, must dip in the Narmada once a year. She comes in the form of a coal-black cow, but returns home quite white, free from all sins that she has acquired from the pilgrims who have dipped into her.

On account of the sacred character of the Narmada Valley, it has been the centre of attraction in all ages for the people of India - both tribals as well as the non-tribals. They have given birth to the intangible heritage of the Valley through the ages - ancient, medieval and modern. On the banks of the Narmada sites like Maheshwar, Jyotirlinga site of Omkar Mandhata, Tripuri, Bheraghat, Gond capital of Mandla, Mandu and many more came into existence. The river banks of the Narmada have been hallowed by galaxy of such saints like Adi Shankaracharya who built great institutions of spiritual research and teaching. Maharani Ahilya Bai's well known munificent activities on the Narmada are still in existence. Innumerable ghats built on the two banks of the river perform unlimited rituals beginning with mantras propitiating the holy Narmada. Fairs and festivals concentrated on the divine character of the river conducted all the year round are countless. Many government and non-government organisations are doing yeoman service to conserve and preserve the traditional values of the Narmada Valley based on the belief of the divine character of the holy river.

During modern times, sustainable development along the Narmada has given rise to the politics of resistance. Are the dams more sacred than the sacred river whose cultural values represented by the relics representing them have been lost by submersion in the dams and the sacred path of circumambulation (parikrama) of the river, as defined by the time immemorial traditions have been altered? Have the concerned State Governments and the Central Government taken adequate measures to protect the cultural heritage and environment? These are some of the burning problems raging since past several decades. The whole problem seems to born out of clash of perceptions.

All these and many more are the issues discussed in the present project which is a part of the study of intangible heritage of various parts of the country which INTACH is conducting at the moment.

We are grateful to the authorities of INTACH, New Delhi who very kindly assigned this project to the Jabalpur Chapter. There are no words to thank adequately Maj. Gen. (Retd.) L.K.Gupta, AVSM, Chairman, INTACH, New Delhi for showing deep interest in conducting this project. Adequate thanks are due to Shri Navin Piplani, Principal Director, INTACH Heritage Academy for his full co-operation in providing all possible assistance towards the progress of this research work. Thanks are also due to Shri Deepak Khandekar, lAS, Ex-Commissioner, [abalpur Division and Chairman, INTACH, Jabalpur Chapter whose whole-hearted support and all possible assistance helped for smooth running of the ..Pfoject and its timely completion. We are deeply indebted to him. Adequate thanks are due to Dr. S.N. Mishra, Co-Convener, INTACH, Jabalpur Chapter and his team of research scholars, especially Shri Sumit Kumar Sharma who were so helpful in conducting the field-work, photography and collection of all kinds of data for-this project. To Dr. Mishra we owe special thanks for his assistance and advice in many respects including editing of photographs and various aspects of the text. Their unflinching support has gone a long way towards successful completion of this project. To Shri Hari Mahidhar, we are thankful for permitting us to incorporate some rare unpublished photographs of the Narmada Valley which were in his personal collection. The specific photographs are: Nos. 1.13, 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 4.1a-b, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.6, 4.9, 4.11, 4.12, 4.13, 5.2a, 5.3, 5.4, 5.7, 6.1b, and 6.2a-b.

The authors are grateful to Shri Vikas Arya of Aryan Books International, New Delhi, whose deep interest in the subject has led this book to be published with an excellent get-up and within shortest possible time.

Contents

  Preface Vll
  List of Abbreviations xii
  List of Illustrations Xlll
1 The Narmada: An Introduction 1
2 Apotheosis of the Narmada 36
3 Narmada Images: An Iconographical Study 59
4 Manifestation of Religious Traditions 81
5 Socio-Religious Activities through the Ages 107
6 Narmada Parikrama 147
7 Sacred River, Sacred Dams: Clash of Perceptions 201
  Resume 223
  Select Bibliography 231
  Index 241

 








The Eternal Narmada - Sacred Landscape and Living Traditions

Item Code:
NAP365
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2017
ISBN:
9788173055645
Language:
English
Size:
12.0 inch X 8.5 inch
Pages:
261 (75 Color Illustrations)
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 1.2 kg
Price:
$85.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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About the Book

A time-immemorial belief in the divine character of the Narmada - one of the seven sacred rivers of India - has permeated throughout the intangible heritage of the Narmada Valley and its inhabitants, both tribals as well as non-tribals. A historical survey of this phenomenon and the problems that it is posing in the modern cultural context is the theme of the present volume.

In the interesting river-lore of India, like the story of Gangaoatarana for the Ganga, the Narmada has a fascinating mythology regarding its origin from the Narmada Kunda on the peak of the Amarkantak Hills in Madhya Pradesh from where it traverses westwards over a length of 1,312 km over M.P., Maharashtra and Gujarat before draining through the Gulf of Khambat into the Arabian Sea, 30 km west of the Bharuch city. It is supposed to be the only virgin river of India for which an independent mythological story exists.

The divine character of the Narmada has been narrated in the Epics, the Puranas and the later literary works. The Revakhanda of the Skanda Purana is entirely dedicated to the story of the origin of the Narmada. It is believed that just a sight of the river Narmada cleanses one of all his sins. It is closely associated with Lord Shiva from the perspiration of whose body during the course of his severe penance, she is believed to have taken birth. As a result, the river represents an important pilgrimage site and one of the highest acts of a pilgrim is to perform "Narmada parikrarna" (circumambulation of the Narmada), for which a pilgrim has to walk from the source of the Narmada on one bank to reach the sea and then to cross it to reach the source. The Narmada is the only river in India where such a traditional act of pilgrimage exists.

During modern times, sustainable development along the Narmada has given rise to the politics of resistance. Are the dams more important than the sacred river whose cultural values represented by the relics have been lost by submersion in the dams and the sacred path of circumambulation (Parikarma) of the river as defined by the time-immemorial traditions have been altered?

All these and many more are the issues discussed in the present volume which is a part of the study of intangible heritage of various parts of the country being conducted by INTACH.

About the Author

Dr. R.K. Sharma (b.1932), Convener, INTACH, Jabalpur Chapter is Retd. Professor and Head of the Department of Archaeology and Dean, Faculty of social sciences, Univesity of Jabalpur. Author and Editor more than two dozen books and over one hundred research papers published in reputed research journals, his contributions to the cause of Indian archaeology in general and archaeology of Madhya Pradesh in Particular are widely acclaimed. He is the recipient of Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma Srijan Somman (2009) Awarded by the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh.

Dr. S.K. Tiwari(b. 1941) Retired Professor of Geography and head of the Department of Tribal studies, University of Jabalpur (1964-2003), has contributed significantly in the fields of natural and social sciences. He has authored about three, dozen books and has been awarded ‘Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma Srijan Samman; I 20009. During 1998-1999, he traversed the entire length of the river Narmada from Amarkantak to the Bay of Cambay by a wooden boat with a group of swimmers. A subsequent series of three books on the Narmada are also to his credit.

Smt. Anuradha Khandekar,A Senior Officering Indian Railways, presently posted as Divisional Railway Manager, Rajkot division, has an abiding passion for Narmada in every aspect-Physical, historical and spiritual. Painted by the controversy and politics of the recent times which she researched for this volume, her attempt in this worked has been to explore another perspective of modern devotees of the holy river who look to collaborate in preserving the heritage and assisting the inhabitants of the region to integrate into the 21st century life a the same time.

Preface

A time-immemorial belief in the divine character of the Narmada, one of the seven sacred rivers of India, has permeated throughout the intangible heritage of the Narmada Valley and its inhabitants, both tribals as well as non-tribals. A historical survey of this phenomenon and the problems that it is posing in the modem cultural context is the theme of the present volume.

In India, a river is a mini cosmos in concept. Every river is a mother deity who spawns mythology, art, music, dance, architecture, history, spirituality and so on. Each one has a clear identity, appearance, colour, style and spirit just like a beautiful woman. In every age, diverse human communities have reinvested themselves on river banks with fascinating nuances.

In the interesting river-lore of India, like the story of Gangavatarana for the Ganga, the Narmada has a fascinating mythology regarding its origin from the Narmada Kunda on the peak of the Amarkantak Hills in Madhya Pradesh from where it traverses westwards over a length of 1,312 km over M.P., Maharashtra and Gujarat before draining through the Gulf of Khambat into the Arabian Sea, 30 km west of the Bharuch city. It is supposed to be the only virgin river of India for which an independent mythological story exists.

The divine character of the Narmada has been narrated in the Epics, the Puranas and the later literary works. The Revakhanda of the Skanda Purana is entirely dedicated to the story of the origin of the Narmada. It is believed that just a sight of the river Narmada cleanses one of all his sins. It is closely associated with Lord Shiva from the perspiration of whose body during the course of his severe penance, she is believed to have taken birth. As a result, the river represents an important pilgrimage site and one of the highest acts of a pilgrim is to perform 'Narmada Parikrama (circumambulation of the Narmada), for which a pilgrim has to walk from the source of the Narmada on one bank to reach the sea and then to cross it to reach the other bank and to walk back to reach the source. The Narmada is the only river in India for which such a traditional act of pilgrimage exists. In tradition the river is supposed to be the holiest of the holy rivers of India - more sacred than the Ganga, which, as per legends, must dip in the Narmada once a year. She comes in the form of a coal-black cow, but returns home quite white, free from all sins that she has acquired from the pilgrims who have dipped into her.

On account of the sacred character of the Narmada Valley, it has been the centre of attraction in all ages for the people of India - both tribals as well as the non-tribals. They have given birth to the intangible heritage of the Valley through the ages - ancient, medieval and modern. On the banks of the Narmada sites like Maheshwar, Jyotirlinga site of Omkar Mandhata, Tripuri, Bheraghat, Gond capital of Mandla, Mandu and many more came into existence. The river banks of the Narmada have been hallowed by galaxy of such saints like Adi Shankaracharya who built great institutions of spiritual research and teaching. Maharani Ahilya Bai's well known munificent activities on the Narmada are still in existence. Innumerable ghats built on the two banks of the river perform unlimited rituals beginning with mantras propitiating the holy Narmada. Fairs and festivals concentrated on the divine character of the river conducted all the year round are countless. Many government and non-government organisations are doing yeoman service to conserve and preserve the traditional values of the Narmada Valley based on the belief of the divine character of the holy river.

During modern times, sustainable development along the Narmada has given rise to the politics of resistance. Are the dams more sacred than the sacred river whose cultural values represented by the relics representing them have been lost by submersion in the dams and the sacred path of circumambulation (parikrama) of the river, as defined by the time immemorial traditions have been altered? Have the concerned State Governments and the Central Government taken adequate measures to protect the cultural heritage and environment? These are some of the burning problems raging since past several decades. The whole problem seems to born out of clash of perceptions.

All these and many more are the issues discussed in the present project which is a part of the study of intangible heritage of various parts of the country which INTACH is conducting at the moment.

We are grateful to the authorities of INTACH, New Delhi who very kindly assigned this project to the Jabalpur Chapter. There are no words to thank adequately Maj. Gen. (Retd.) L.K.Gupta, AVSM, Chairman, INTACH, New Delhi for showing deep interest in conducting this project. Adequate thanks are due to Shri Navin Piplani, Principal Director, INTACH Heritage Academy for his full co-operation in providing all possible assistance towards the progress of this research work. Thanks are also due to Shri Deepak Khandekar, lAS, Ex-Commissioner, [abalpur Division and Chairman, INTACH, Jabalpur Chapter whose whole-hearted support and all possible assistance helped for smooth running of the ..Pfoject and its timely completion. We are deeply indebted to him. Adequate thanks are due to Dr. S.N. Mishra, Co-Convener, INTACH, Jabalpur Chapter and his team of research scholars, especially Shri Sumit Kumar Sharma who were so helpful in conducting the field-work, photography and collection of all kinds of data for-this project. To Dr. Mishra we owe special thanks for his assistance and advice in many respects including editing of photographs and various aspects of the text. Their unflinching support has gone a long way towards successful completion of this project. To Shri Hari Mahidhar, we are thankful for permitting us to incorporate some rare unpublished photographs of the Narmada Valley which were in his personal collection. The specific photographs are: Nos. 1.13, 3.5, 3.6, 3.8, 4.1a-b, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.6, 4.9, 4.11, 4.12, 4.13, 5.2a, 5.3, 5.4, 5.7, 6.1b, and 6.2a-b.

The authors are grateful to Shri Vikas Arya of Aryan Books International, New Delhi, whose deep interest in the subject has led this book to be published with an excellent get-up and within shortest possible time.

Contents

  Preface Vll
  List of Abbreviations xii
  List of Illustrations Xlll
1 The Narmada: An Introduction 1
2 Apotheosis of the Narmada 36
3 Narmada Images: An Iconographical Study 59
4 Manifestation of Religious Traditions 81
5 Socio-Religious Activities through the Ages 107
6 Narmada Parikrama 147
7 Sacred River, Sacred Dams: Clash of Perceptions 201
  Resume 223
  Select Bibliography 231
  Index 241

 








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